Nebraska vs. Ohio State, 11.3.18

Nebraska's Luke Gifford (left) attempts a catch on a ball deflected by Ohio State's Binjimen Victor (9). who was interfered with by the Huskers' Dicaprio Bootle in the second quarter Saturday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Scott Frost said Monday he felt Nebraska's defense played its best game of the year at Ohio State.

Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander appreciates the sentiment. That doesn't mean he was happy with the result.

"I heard bits and pieces of Adrian’s (Martinez) postgame press conference, and I’m with him. Losing is never acceptable. But, like we talked about, the process, the process, the process. The process for me is, I feel good energy coming to work every day because I see the improvement on a daily basis. I see the improvement on tape," Chinander said Tuesday morning. "But I also feel hungry, because we’re not even close. We’re just not even close. That was a good football team, we played better, but we can’t give up that many points, we can’t make some of the mistakes we did that led to some of those big runs."

Chinander did take some positives away. The defense's execution continued to improve. The Huskers forced three turnovers for the second straight game, which is the direct result of the work done in practice, he explained.

But there is more to accomplish.

"So it’s good and bad for me. It’s bad because we didn’t win the football game and we needed to win the football game. We should have won the football game. We had the opportunity to win the game on defense and leave the offense sit on the bench," Chinander said. "I love our offense and I want them to score a hundred points. But there’s some games where I want to go out there and win it. I want the defense to go out there and win it."

Clear plan for Dixon: Expect to see more of Ole Miss transfer linebacker Breon Dixon over Nebraska's final three games.

The plan, according to outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt, is to play the sophomore in each of NU's final four regular-season games after Dixon saw his first action of the season at Ohio State.

"We thought it would be a good deal to get him in some games at the end of the season to kind of carry it over into the offseason and spring ball to kind build momentum for him in getting his reps and playing and doing the things we want him to do," Dewitt said. "He probably could have played earlier this season, but we thought it would be better for his learning curve to get four games consecutively so that it builds on itself."

Lightbourn "working through" kickoff gaffe: Caleb Lightbourn made the news for all the wrong reasons Saturday after his attempt at a surprise onside kick went awry after Nebraska's first touchdown against Ohio State.

It was a tough moment for the junior, and one magnified by the position he plays, NU's special teams coordinator said Tuesday.

"I think anytime you’re a specialist and you’re on display in front of however many thousands of people, your mistakes obviously get magnified," Dewitt said. "But that’s the life you lead when you’re a specialist, when you’re a kicker and everybody’s watching you to see how you handle it.

"So it’s not easy for him, obviously, but he’s working through it."

"More success": Coach Scott Frost was asked on the weekly Big Ten coaches’ teleconference what area he’d like most to see improvement in over the final three games.

He had a simple answer.

“We just need some more success,” he said. “Gosh, so many things are going the right way and the guys are enjoying football more. They’re playing for each other more. …

“The best way to finish the season the right way is to win another game or two or maybe even three. That’s going to be tough against the competition we’re facing down the stretch, but the guys have improved enough to have a chance to be in all three of those games and I’d love to see them pull them out.”

Exciting future for QB: Nebraska sophomore tight end Jack Stoll was asked if true freshman Adrian Martinez is the best quarterback with whom he’s played.

Stoll didn’t go there, showing respect to the likes of Tanner Lee, Tommy Armstrong, Patrick O’Brien, Tristan Gebbia and Ryker Fyfe.

But Stoll did heap praise on Martinez.

“He can be as good as he wants to be,” Stoll said. “You see him go out there and he’s getting 400 all-purpose yards as a true freshman. I’m just really excited to see what he can do in the future. Obviously, I’ve got a few more years here, so I’m really excited to watch his development and just see how much he can grow and how great a football player he can become.

“He’s already a great football player. I think he can take that next step and be a guy who everyone remembers.”

— Chris Basnett, Parker Gabriel and Steven M. Sipple


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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